OnePlus has finally launched the Nord 2, arriving as a follow-up to the well-rounded original Nord model. Last year’s device was the first mid-range OnePlus phone in years, and the firm has since embraced budget devices in a massive way.
You can read our full thoughts in our OnePlus Nord 2 review, but it’s fair to say that OnePlus has done a solid job of picking up where the original left off. But what if you want something a little different? Well, there are plenty of Nord 2 alternatives on the table.
The best OnePlus Nord 2 alternatives
1. Poco F3 GT
The Poco F3 GT launched in India just a day after the Nord 2, bringing a gaming focus to the table. It offers the same Dimensity 1200 SoC as the OnePlus device, but its standout feature is a pair of retractable shoulder buttons for gaming.
Poco’s phone also offers a 6.67-inch 120Hz OLED screen and a 5,065mAh battery, resulting in a higher refresh rate and a larger battery than the Nord 2. Other notable features include an IP53 rating, 67W charging, and a triple rear camera system (64MP + 8MP + 2MP).
The Poco F3 phones offer a few choice upgrades over the Nord 2.
In other words, you might want to consider this device over the Nord 2 if you spend plenty of time gaming on your phone or just want a bigger battery. There’s no word on wider availability, but it’ll set you back Rs 26,999 (~$362) in India.
For those outside of India, we recommend you check out the standard Poco F3, packing a Snapdragon 870 chipset, a 120Hz OLED screen, and a €349 (~$412) price tag. The biggest issue with this device is that the Android skin was buggy at launch, so you might want to wait for more OTA updates before jumping in.
2. Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
Samsung’s Galaxy A series continues to deliver some good mid-range wares, and the Galaxy A52 5G is right up there as one of the better entries. The 5G-powered mid-ranger sacrifices some horsepower compared to even the original Nord, but you’re still getting a decent Snapdragon 750G chipset.
The rest of the spec sheet compares pretty favorably to the Nord 2 for the most part. We’ve got a 120Hz OLED screen (higher than the Nord 2’s 90Hz), a 4,500mAh battery, and a pretty solid quad-camera system. The standout feature is IP67 water/dust resistance, which the OnePlus device lacks.
Perhaps the biggest downer for the A52 5G is the 25W charging speed, paling in comparison to the Nord 2’s 65W charging. It’s also a little more expensive than the Nord 2, but there’s still a lot to like here, and three years of Android OS updates is the cherry on top of a tasty cake.
3. OnePlus Nord
The original Nord is one of the best OnePlus Nord 2 alternatives, and it’s aged pretty well since its release a year ago. It’s got a Snapdragon 765G processor that’s still very capable and 5G-ready, a 90Hz OLED screen that’s near-identical to the new phone’s display, and a 4,110mAh battery with 30W wired charging.
OnePlus also took a quantity over quality approach with the cameras, featuring a quad rear camera system (48MP main, 8MP ultra-wide, two 2MP sensors) and a dual selfie setup. The latter consists of a 32MP main shooter and an 8MP ultra-wide lens for group selfies. We weren’t particularly enthused with these cameras, but updates and apps like Gcam can make a difference.
OnePlus Nord long-term review: Is it still worth buying one year later?
Toss in a familiar Oxygen OS Android skin and the first Nord is a pretty sensible alternative to the new device. The only downside is that the phone might be hard to find as it’s reportedly out of stock.
Alternatively, OnePlus has also launched the Nord CE, which is essentially a slightly stripped-down, cheaper Nord. In fact, the only major cutbacks are a less capable Snapdragon 750G chipset and no dual selfie camera setup. Otherwise, you’re getting a bigger battery, the same 30W charging speed, and a 64MP main camera.
4. Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
The Mi 11 Lite is the cheapest of the core Mi 11 series actually available in 4G and 5G flavors, but the latter is definitely the better OnePlus Nord 2 alternative on paper. Aside from 5G connectivity, the Mi 11 Lite 5G also offers a Snapdragon 780G processor that’s a major upgrade over last year’s Snapdragon 765G mid-range 5G silicon.
Otherwise, the 4G and 5G models share a number of features, namely a 4,250mAh battery with 33W charging, a 6.55-inch 90Hz OLED panel, and the same triple rear camera system. The latter consists of a 64MP main shooter, 8MP ultra-wide camera, and 5MP telemacro lens. The two variants do have different selfie cameras (20MP for 5G and 16MP for 4G) but share an IP53 rating.
Xiaomi has positioned this device as a design-focused phone, coming in at just 6.8mm thin and weighing just under 160 grams. So if you value aesthetics and ergonomics, this might be the device for you.
5. Apple iPhone SE 2020
Like the idea of a cheaper yet capable device and don’t mind venturing outside Android? That’s where the iPhone SE comes in, retailing for $399 in the US.
Apple’s device essentially has the same design as the iPhone 8, so those expecting thin bezels and something fresh might be disappointed. Otherwise, you’re getting a still-nippy A13 Bionic processor, IP67 water/dust resistance, and wireless charging. The addition of a fingerprint scanner is also welcome in today’s mask-wearing climate.
Buyer’s guide: Which iPhone is right for you?
The iPhone SE does lack several features compared to the Nord 2 though, such as an OLED screen, high refresh rate, fast charging, an ultra-wide secondary rear camera, and 5G. You’re also sacrificing battery life if you go with the Apple device. Nevertheless, you do gain comprehensive access to Apple’s ecosystem by opting for this phone.
6. Google Pixel 4a 5G
OnePlus is one of the better companies when it comes to Android OS updates, but the Nord series only gets the standard two years of OS updates and three years of security patches. So what if you want longer-term support? The Google Pixel 4a 5G delivers three years of OS updates and four years of security patches. You’re also getting a clean version of Android and unlimited high-quality Google Photos backups.
Otherwise, the Pixel 4a 5G slots in neatly between the Pixel 4a and Pixel 5, featuring the same Snapdragon 765G chipset seen in the original Nord and Pixel 5. You’re also getting the same dual rear camera system, featuring a 12MP main shooter and a 16MP ultra-wide snapper. We thought image quality was fantastic for the most part, although the ultra-wide camera wasn’t exactly great in our book.
Our verdict: Google Pixel 4a 5G review
In saying so, the Pixel 4a 5G does miss out on a few features seen on the Nord 2, such as a high refresh rate screen, fast charging, and a huge battery. But it’s still worth considering if you value camera quality, software updates, and a stock take on Android.
Don’t care about 5G or an ultra-wide camera? Then that’s where the Pixel 4a comes in. The Snapdragon 730 chipset is pretty old right now and lags behind last year’s Snapdragon 765G, but you’re still getting a great single rear camera, stock Android, and three years of OS updates.
7. OnePlus 9
Those with cash to spare or taking the contract route might want to consider the standard OnePlus 9. You will be spending $729 in the US and Rs 50,000 in India, but you do get quite a few more features in exchange.
The OnePlus 9 comes with a flagship Snapdragon 888 processor, a higher refresh rate, and wireless charging (at least outside India). Interestingly enough, the phone also comes with an IP68 rating if you buy it via T-Mobile. Unfortunately, unlocked devices don’t have this rating, but it’s presumably still got ingress protection of some kind.
OnePlus’s vanilla flagship also stands out thanks to its Hasselblad-branded camera system. You’re getting a 48MP main camera (IMX689), a 50MP ultra-wide snapper (IMX766), and a 2MP monochrome lens. And we thought it took great photos in our review.
For those in India, the region-exclusive OnePlus 9R distills the OnePlus 9 series experience into an even cheaper package.
That’s it for our look at the best OnePlus Nord 2 alternatives! Are there any other phones that you’d recommend? Let us know below!